Golf Talk With Greg Holman – #85

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The weather is getting hotter and the golf courses are turning brown. At times the fairways and fringes around the greens are almost crispy. It’s time to pull out the Texas Wedge.

As freshman in high school, our #1 man was not the greatest long putter. I guess that was his achilles heel. One weakness in his game. If he was even one inch off the green he would chip with a wedge. I never understood that. I could always get the ball closer to the hole from 30 feet with a putter than I could with a pitching wedge. If the surface is smooth between you and the hole, why not putt? There is less chance for error. A bad putt will be three or four feet away whereas a bad chip could fly past the hole or check up half way.

I’ve had my share of chip ins for eagle, birdie, par and even bogie over the years but I always felt I had a better chance of holing out with a putter. By the way, using a putter off the green is known as a Texas Wedge shot. My general rule of thumb is three feet. If I am more than three feet off the green, I will chip, but several factors come in to play. You’ll see the pros putt the ball from ten or twenty yards off the green on links courses like the courses that host the British Open or Open Championship. You have to use the club that you fell will give you the best chance to get down in two.

Remember, wind can be a factor if you start lofting the ball. So when the area around the green is mowed short or is dirt or is otherwise firm, pull out the Texas Wedge. We’ve talked about chipping before and my second choice after putting is chipping rather than pitching. Again, pitching has loft. Chipping I feel gives you more control. Loft the ball just over the fringe and let your ball roll the rest of the way, like a putt. For shots when the pin is all the way across the green and it’s level or uphill, I’ll use a 7-iron. For a mid-range chip I’ll choose an 8, and for downhill or short chips I prefer a 9-iron or wedge.

The Texas Wedge is useful in other areas of the course too. Hardpan where chipping or pitching is too risky. Sand traps with firm sand and no lip. How about underneath a tree in pine straw. A putt will obviously not roll well in high grass, but on firm surfaces when in trouble, the putter can bale you out. Like all other shots it will take practice, but putting from the fringe could save you three or four shots per round. Remember the Texas Wedge is not a 15th club. You are only allowed 14, but one club can act as many. It’s the swiss army knife of golf clubs.

Hit ’em straight!

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